Bad smells wafting across Gravesend come from Essex say council
PUBLISHED: 17:45 04 August 2011
»There is something in the air getting up people's noses, and environmental experts believe it could be coming from our neighbours across the water.
Complaints of an acrid smell wafting across the River Thames to Gravesham have been blamed on fumes from a fire involving 21,000 tonnes of wood in Essex that has been blazing for more than a month.
The council has received scores of calls regarding strong smells during the past few weeks, and following investigations has concluded the odours are being produced by a huge blaze at a quarry owned by Rio Ltd near Orsett, Essex.
Tony Askew, of Albion Road, Gravesend, said: “We smelt it about three or four weeks ago. At night we have the window open and it wakes you up.
“I have been getting headaches, though whether that is the smell or lack of sleep I don’t know. It is like someone is smoking a really old cigarette, it absolutely reeks.”
The blaze, fuelled by processed wood awaiting transport to a biomass factory, began on July 3 in a 76 metre deep pit and is still smouldering.
But there is bad news for residents as firefighters have advised that, for health and safety reasons, they plan to let it burn itself out.
This could take another two weeks, with two main areas still ablaze, although clearing of some charred remains began this week.
Rita Page, of Cherrywood Drive, Northfleet, said: “It is terrible, it actually burns your nostrils.
“It is like an acrid smell, a bit like when plastic burns.
“I called the council but they said there is nothing they can do about it.”
She believes the problem predates July 3, stating there has been an issue for around a year.
A council spokesman said: “Until the fire has been extinguished it will be difficult to rule it out as the source.”
Jonathon Howard, communications manager at Rio, said: “Our team has been working continuously to make this first stage of the clear‐up as effective as possible.
“We are making good progress, particularly in reducing the smoke from the fire.”